You guys asked me for some comments so I thought I would just do a post instead. I stated with a newspaper read to see what was interesting. I also know I am cynical about all politics so there is always plenty to scoff at there. But I have to admit Hillary Clinton impressed me today with her visit to China. On last leg of her Secretary of State to Asia she braved it and went to Beijing.
I started reading about it in CNN (Feb 21) but all the papers I have checked say this is her most crucial stop-over in her Asia trip. And it signals the new US administration’s first attempts to lay a foundation towards a China policy. Well I think she may have got away with it even though she should know you cannot beat the Chinese at Chinese checkers especially in China.
One clever ploy was her tactical plan. I heard that BBC TV tonight showed Hillary’s first port of call there was a state of the art power station, near Beijing that incidentally uses American technology and is one of the world’s lowest carbon emission sites.On her agenda amongst many things was getting the climate change on the table.
It is also interesting that the US and China are the highest polluters on the planet according greenhouse emission measurements. I just checked the Kyoto agreement between majority of nations which is all about emission reductions. This is a chart I found on Wikipedia that was updated this month on Feb 9 showing those who have ratified it. My Aussie mates would be pleased to see they are now green but look who is still, red. Yes the US.
Green are countries that have signed and ratified the Kyoto treaty, yellow (Kazakhstan) have signed, but not yet ratified, grey is not yet decided including the Vatican city who are an observer as I am sure they don’t make much smoke even when pope dies and red is signed but with no intention of ratifying.
The Bush Administration’s position in 2005 at Montreal when commenting on US Kyoto ratification was to make a statement that global warming is a problem that either will solve itself or won’t. Wow I mss that man already don’t you? China, incidentally signed.
I wonder how Hilary handled that one. But I also understand from my AGW mates that China in substance is still a very reluctant player and I would be sure Hillary knows that too. I have also heard it said that Chinese business leaders say “Why should we bust our butts to fix our Smokey factories, when the US, who made all the mess in the first place, has not even joined in Kyoto”. They do have a point there, I must admit.
But behind the scenes I have also heard it said they think it is now their turn to make some money, after the US has been cleaning up for 200 years and more. Don’t forget Hilary Chinese don’t only run laundries’ and cook great food. They were actually there at the gold rushes in the 1800’s in Australia and Yukon in Canada and often found gold first. I also remember story a good old story about of a family trying to figure out why their Chinese workers were stealing their house brick by brick. They then realized they were made from alluvial sand from the creek-beds in the gold fields.
So they Chinese know about money and culture and have been studying the US closely since 1421, The Year China Discovered America
I suspect too, even with good intentions of the now more environmentally benevolent China Government, may be still quite hampered. Maybe the 23 provinces and thousand add communes who have representation in that big house in Tiananmen square have ideas to make hay while the sun shines and are have been continuing to build coal fired plants at rates of one and two a month.
Is it any wonder Chinalco want to buy RTZ from the Aussies. Incidentally I heard today, for you guys silly enough to still have RTZ shares, that is not a done deal. RTZ it seems are thinking again and looking for a white night. And guess who they are talking to, Yes, you got it, good old BHP, their old foes have now become best mates. I guess one of them RTZ or BHP Billiton have a good CFO now who can see how to balance the books without selling off the farm.
But back to Hillary. I know she is smart as she knows throwing stones from her glass house is foolishness The US has an a terrible track record in the free enterprise community for not doing anything that does not make a buck. But she can perhaps fall back on the folly of the power and greed model that could happen to China now. Maybe they will fall for that one.
But more power to her that she knows the new administration does not apply those rules to the US anymore with their continued leadership role, determined to live by the human rights baaed on champions for free enterprise. Let’s face it, it may be worth practicing now as they have nothing left to lose.
Even so it seems old habit will die hard as anything that may mean spending a buck on re-jigging perfectly good carbon pollutant gear is still untouchable and is exempt from that ethic. Hence I suspect the US stated intent for Kyoto non ratification with prevail. Things like the valuable Auto industry is one example that of course would have suffered with emission control and would have gone broke. Lucky for them eh?
So the US independent free enterprise policy in the face of the rest of the jerks in the world who care and who signed up will now have to wait. For our economies to return we need a U Turn in policies of the US power brokers. I suspect if it is not going their way regardless of cost they will hamper Obama to stall things as long as possible to hold the line against a China dominance, while they look for other ways to clean up the shambles.I may be too harsh. Obama is not putting up with any crap in his first 100 days, so perhaps I will give him a break.
Perhaps I have digressed a touch? My praise remains for the Secretary of Sate Lady’s negotiating ability remains. Anyone who can outmaneuver a powerful like man her husband Bill when he got him out of bother when he fibbed about playing hide the sausage around at the water cooler is worth a shot. Of course I am referring to the time Hillary nailed him for telling fibs and he took the offensive saying “Just count your lucky stars that you didn’t marry that gas pump attendant over there as you have not have been the First Lady.” To which it is reported she replied, “Bill, if I married that gas pump attendant over there. he would be President”.
And now like the last time in Asia unarmed and alone she is again is braving the dangers to go meet the Chinese President Hu Jintao to agree a framework for further discussions. And for the cynics you may be forgiven for thinking that her visit to the power plant was to signal to China President to buy US technology to cement US relations to continue to cooperate to buy Chinese product. Good one H.
But I have to admit the US does need something to bargain with as the global warming debate is good to go now regardless of Kyoto. And to his credit Hillary’s new offsider at home, President Obama,who has announced plans to spend up big on emissions control initiatives so at least, as bargaining chip if you will forgive me the pun, she can used it to create some smoke and sell some new products back to the Chinese.
But as was pointed out by the China Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi the two economies are clearly so intertwined that resolving any differences will depend on co-operation. For example Yang said that China is the world’s top holder of U.S. debt. Nice one Yang. And too show his good intentions he added China had swapped its US dollars for U.S. treasury bonds to ensure liquidity and security in its dealings. If I got that right it is very noble, but I wonder if he had some other idea about negotiating power and keeping the greenback cache for a cold and sleet filled day like today at now below 0 degrees C.
It was also reported at the meetings that China-U.S. trade volume rose by 10.5 percent in 2008 to $333.7 billion. Now all that gives them some serious negotiating clout you have to admit. Go somewhere else if you can. But the sting in the tail is it is not so easy boys and girls of the good old US Of A. You will have need pay of the credit card off first.
So the Rhetoric begins. It is now being reported in the press about the meetings acknowledging the economic front is of such high importance with a need for working in cooperation. And US-Sino relations issues on the other hand must take a back seat as the economies are now so intertwined. Never mind there are some serious gaps yet to field. Human rights and especially Tibet is not such a big one. Who cares about few mountain dwellers anyway? Mind you Buddha does have some influence in Asia and Tibet has a big guy there that carries some weight with him.
But the two big hard nuts to crack are the US alignment on long time r China sore, Taiwan and and the US standoff position with North Korea. which also happens to be one of China’s largest trading partners. Incidentally Clinton was reported to have said offline to a reporter that U.S. policy towards Taiwan will not change. I am sure they don’t want to upset anyone in Taipei but I also it is not because they hold them is in awe for building the first worlds tallest building outside the US, the Taipei 101 tower.
Incidentally my mate Micheal Zsang who has a prospering in software ands services business based on Shanghai tells me human rights in China are a non-issue. He has done well, as have most of his peers in the last 20 or so years and does not want or see value in any change.
My German pal Ule Behinger who enjoys the being a pseudo Chinese at his production plants there does well making musical instruments. Zsang over a beer there recently, pointed out to me that many other Asia countries have codes of conduct to not bag their infrastructure and leaders and they are good places to live too.
North Korea does not seem so hard either now they have stopped making their lethal fireworks. But Taiwan is a tough one that has gone on since 1949 when Chiang Kai-shek did a runner with the family money and declared himself imperial ruler of all of China then used the cash to entice his mates to support him. China Mainland has been pissed off ever since and just wants their money back. Maybe only the Irish can help sort that out.
So who holds the balance of power now, I wonder? Some US Papers today like San Fransico Chroncle have reported the Chinese hosts are plainly more worried about their own sinking economy. But I like their observation of the tone that “This White House is headed in a new direction: eastwards”
Interesting too Chinese President Hu Jinato and U.S. President Barack Obama are scheduled to meet at the G20 meeting in London in April. It looks like Looks like it is your move Barack. Oh one thing is for sure . Like Hilary I think I will follow the money.
It seems Hilary has done a good job, Even in Indonesia she did well fielding issues including one about getting Barak back to pick up the lunch box he forgot when left there as a kid after spending a fours years at school there.
As I conclude my reading, I thought I would just check out the FOX News where I see Wall Street is buzzing about a prospect of Bank nationalizations. Wow, I guess they work on the weekend now and have got wind of some communist ideas Hilary has send back from the Chinese. How the wheel turns, even eh for the mighty land of the free? General Macarthur would surely turn in his grave.
And talking about working on weekend: So do the US Treasury. Reuters have just reported their boss has just waltzed in and told then to start cutting taxes. How novel father Christmas comes in January now too. Or maybe it is a Chinese New year tradition.
It has has also restored my ongoing faith in the human nature, so I can continue to remain cynical of anything political.
This is sure better than watching super bowl. Good luck you guys and keep up the good work.
…Roland F Chessman